Student vs. State College Area School District

Pennsylvania
Gifted Education Hearing Officer

FINAL DECISION AND ORDER

Student’s Name: [redacted]

Date of Birth: [redacted]

ODR No. 17219-1516AS

OPEN HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

State College Area School District 131 West Nittany Avenue
State College, PA 16801

Representative:

Pro se

Scott Etter, Esq.
Michael Levandoski, Esq. Etter Law Firm, LLC
216 Circle Drive
State College, PA 1680

Dates of Hearing: 02/18/2016, 02/26/2016, 03/02/2016, 03/30/2016

Record Closed: 04/18/20161

Date of Decision: 05/02/2016

Hearing Officer: Brian Jason Ford, JD, CHO

Introduction

The Parent requested this due process hearing on behalf of the Student, raising claims against the State College Area School District (District) under Pennsylvania’s gifted education regulations, 22 Pa. Code § 16 et seq. (Chapter 16). The District concedes that the Student is gifted. The Parent alleges that the Student is gifted in areas that have not been recognized by the District, that the District’s evaluations of the Student violate Chapter 16 and that the Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP) that the District has offered is inadequate.

For reasons discussed below, I find mostly in the District’s favor, but I will require the District to modify the Student’s proposed GIEP to accurately reflect the gifted education that the Student is actually receiving.

Issues

The issues presented in this matter were phrased in a variety of ways throughout the hearing. I cannot decide issues that are not properly raised but, given the record, some analysis is required just to determine what issues were actually presented.

At various times, the Parent raised the question of whether the Student is gifted in certain domains (e.g. whether the Student is gifted in math). For reasons discussed below, under Pennsylvania law, a student is either gifted or not. This, and the fact that the District concedes that the Student is gifted, reduces the entire scope of this case to a question of what sort of gifted education the Student needs in order to receive an appropriate education in accordance with Chapter 16. In other words, what must the Student’s GIEP contain?

This inquiry subsumes all of the Parent’s objections to the District’s evaluations. Particularly in light of the District’s concession, the purpose of those evaluations was to determine what programming the Student requires. Even so, for the sake of clarity, I will address the appropriateness of the District’s evaluations as a separate issue.

Finally, the Parent demands compensatory education. Consequently, all of the various phrasings of the issues boil down to these:

  1. Did the District’s evaluation comply with Chapter 16?
  2. Is the GIEP that the District proposed for the Student appropriate and, if not, how must it be modified?2
  3. Is the Student owed compensatory education?

The Parent also demanded instruction to address the relative weaknesses in cursive writing and keyboarding. Those demands fall outside of the Complaint and were raised only through the Parent’s opening statement and testimony. Those issues, therefore, are not properly presented.

The Parent’s claim of predetermination (that the District refused to consider parental input in the GIEP development process) is also not properly pled. Moreover, I have some doubts as to whether that claim is recognizable under Chapter 16. In an abundance of caution, however, I will address this while discussing the appropriateness of the District’s evaluations and GIEP.

Student-State-College-Area-ODRNo-17219-1516AS

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